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Natalie Thomas Headshot

The Power of the Number 8 and Its Fate for My Family

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GRANDFATHER AND BABY
Johner Images via Getty Images

A year ago this week, I was very pregnant and convinced I'd deliver any day. When my family phone chain started at 9:30pm one night, everyone assumed I was in labor. Obviously in my house, we knew that wasn't the case. I'd just turned my phone off and was getting ready for bed when my husband's rang. It was my sister. She never calls that late and usually doesn't call him.

Bracing myself for bad news, I took a deep breath and answered the phone. As my sister proceeded to tell me what happened, I gasped for air that moments before seemed readily available. Now the room was deafeningly devoid. Tears plummeted down my puffy face. I fell to my knees and began to rock back and forth, trying to move it untrue. My husband looked on, horrified.

It was my father. He'd had a seizure. His right leg started shaking uncontrollably, his left immediately mimicking it, soon his whole body was convulsing, eyes rolling back in his head, blood profusely flowing from his mouth.

It took five men -- 2 paramedics and 3 police officers -- handcuffs and a stretcher to restrain him. (Note to self: never mess with my father.) He was rushed to the hospital. My terrified mother managed to dress herself, collect their belongings, pack a bag and drive herself to the hospital. She's even stronger than I gave her credit for. They both are.

At this point, pregnant and emotional, that's all I knew. I desperately wanted to hop in the car in the middle of the night and go there. Everyone pleaded with me not to. Remaining at home, 90 miles away from my parents, who needed me and, I, them, was one of the hardest things I've had to do.

They soon discovered he had a brain tumor and needed surgery.

It was eight days from my due date. A number we'd grown pretty accustomed to.

When I flew to New York at 33 weeks pregnant and stayed in a hotel for two weeks because our stuff hadn't arrived yet, we were on the 8th floor of the TriBeCa Grand. Our new doctor's appointments were also on the 8th floor and we finally settled into our 8th floor apartment where we remain today. When we arrived at NYU hospital, Labor and Delivery was, you guessed it, the 8th floor. And our daughter, the love of our lives, was born on 5/3, which adds up to 8, at 8:38am.

Once my baby brain cleared for a moment and I realized all of the similarities about a week or so after she was born, I immediately looked back at the calendar to when we conceived. TMI, but it only took us one try, of which we weren't even really trying, and, therefore, we know the exact date. It was, of course, August 8th. 8/8.

Not only is it incredibly clear to me that this baby was meant to be, now reflecting on her grandfather's life scare, it is even more apparent that she's here for a reason.

Those next two weeks (she was late), post-seizure and pre-baby, were incredibly scary. But my dad kept saying he was holding out for his "grand girl." He has two grandsons already, loves his boys and boy time (a.k.a. wrestling) immensely and is the best grandfather to them. But as soon as he found out we were expecting, he wished for a girl.

The thought of him leaving just days before being granted that gift was unimaginable. Too unimaginable, apparently.

Weak and weary and against everyone's better judgment, my dad made his way to my hospital room that morning to greet his girls.

I've never been more overwhelmed with love and gratitude. It was the most magical day. One, many of us feared, just days before, would be bittersweet.

My dad went on to have brain surgery three weeks after my daughter was born. We were there for it and, thankfully, he came through beautifully. In fact, he had the best recovery the surgeon, a forty-year veteran, had ever seen.

We weren't surprised. For he had his grand girl to get back to.

Also not surprisingly, he was in Suite 404. You don't have to be a math major to know what that adds up to. Some will cite coincidence, think it's exaggerated or embellished (it's not) or call me sappy and hokey for believing in all of this. I say you have to believe in something. And, beyond my father and my daughter, I now believe in the power of 8 and its great fate for my family.